In a Thursday podcast, “Leaning Right and Turning Left with Sadler and the Senator,” State Sen. Bill Stanley urged the two delegates embroiled in a legal battle to resolve their differences outside of court.
Dels. Wren Williams, R-Stuart, and Marie March, R-Floyd, are embroiled in a legal battle after March alleged that she was assaulted as Williams, his wife and his legislative aide left a recent fundraising event.
Williams denies any wrongdoing.
Both are seeking the Republican nomination in the 2023 election as a result of redistricting.
Stanley, R-Moneta, who had declined comment, on Thursday urged the two “to come together and resolve this.”
(See related story inside.)
At this point, the situation is “like a circular firing squad,” and regardless of the outcome, each will bear “the stain of the fight.”
Stanley said he respects both lawmakers, adding that he will support the winner of the nomination regardless. For now, he encouraged Williams and March to take the lead and work together to settle their differences out of court.
“I don’t see anybody winning in a court case. I just don’t see a scenario where anybody wins,” Stanley said. “… I advise them to come together, return to civility … and find a way to move forward.”
March filed a criminal complaint against Williams alleging assault after a recent fundraising event in Wytheville in which she alleged Williams “body slammed” into her when exiting the venue.
Williams, who is scheduled to be arraigned on the charge in November, has said he unintentionally “bumped” into March, who was one of several standing in a group near the exit. Williams released two video recordings – one of the alleged incident and a second of March reenacting her allegations moments later for a police officer.
“This is not about a race for political office. This is about conducting ourselves with civility, respect and according to the law,” March wrote in a text after the video was released. “He did not deny the action itself. In addition to his attempts to avoid legal responsibility, he released an incomplete and grainy video in an attempt to conceal his actions.”
She also released body camera footage of Williams’ interaction with a police officer in the parking lot.
“It is clear in this body camera footage that Mr. Williams is carefully choosing his words,” March wrote.
Williams said that he was “understandably frustrated and caught off guard by the ridiculous spectacle March was creating and by these officers having their valuable time wasted in this way.”
As a criminal defense attorney by trade, Williams said he understands what can happen when falsely accused people speak emotionally.
“Especially considering at this point I had no idea that the video that entirely vindicates me even existed,” he said, and added that he conducted himself in the same manner as he would advise any of his falsely accused clients to conduct themselves in that kind of situation
When talking to police officers and in a statement, March said, “there were numerous witnesses to this event.”
In an updated release, Williams said an eyewitness to the encounter came forward in his defense.
Debra Atwell, of Abingdon, wrote that while she was waiting to re-enter the ballroom, she was standing directly behind March in the crowded doorway when Williams passed through.
He “didn’t bump (March) hard at all. It was just like if you passed someone in the airport and brushed against their shoulder. She didn’t waver at all, or even move,” she said, and added that Williams did not veer to hit March, and he immediately turned and apologized.
“In light of this testimony, I earnestly implore Marie March to drop these baseless charges. I hope that we can all heal as a party from this misunderstanding,” she said.
Like the security tape of the incident, Williams said Atwell’s account of the incident vindicates him of any wrongdoings.
“It is sickening that March has continued to double-down on her lies to the police officers that evening, claiming this was ‘Assault and Battery.’ Nothing could be further from the truth. This is truly unhinged behavior. March is putting spectacle over decency, and that is unbecoming of an elected official,” he said.
“The truth will prevail,” March wrote.
A copy of the criminal complaint, videos and bodycam footage can be viewed online at www.theenterprise.net.